Press Release · Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 7 May 1997
ERDEMOVIC APPEAL: PRELIMINARY HEARING ON 26 MAY AT 10.00 a.m.
The Defence counsel of Drazen ERDEMOVIC (the Appellant), sentenced on 29 November 1996 to ten years imprisonment by Trial Chamber I for a crime against humanity, filed a notice of appeal on 23 December 1996. Pursuant to Rule 111, the Appellant filed a brief "of arguments and authorities", in his original language, on 26 March 1997. The Prosecutor (the Respondent) responded
to it on 28 April 1997. (See attached Press Information Memorandum).
In an Order dated 5 May 1997, the President of the Appeals Chamber "deem[ed] it necessary for the Parties to address three preliminary questions which have not been raised in the grounds of appeal nor in the Respondent's brief but which arise for determination before the grounds of the appeal may properly be heard".
A hearing on "three preliminary questions" will be held on 26 May 1997 at 10.00 a.m. before the Appeals Chamber, composed of Judges CASSESE (presiding), LI, STEPHEN, McDONALD and VOHRAH. The parties are instructed to submit written briefs on these preliminary questions by 20 May.
The preliminary questions to be addressed by the parties are the following:
(1) "In law, may duress afford a complete defence to a charge of crimes against humanity and/or war crimes such that, if the defence is proved at trial, the accused is entitled to an acquittal?
(2) If the answer to (1) is in the affirmative, was the guilty plea entered by the accused at his initial appearance equivocal in that the accused, while pleading guilty, invoked duress?
(3) Was the acceptance of a guilty plea valid in view of the mental condition of the accused at the time the plea was entered? If not, was this defect cured by statements made by the accused in subsequent proceedings?"